sale of the AJ Bell stadium

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has launched an investigation into Sale Sharks’ handling of Covid-19, after the club’s 19 positive cases threw the end of the Premiership season into disarray.

A spokesman said: “The RFU is undertaking an independent audit of areas including the track and trace processes.

“The Professional Game Board agreed a minimum standards framework for the season re-start, including the ability for sanctions in the event of any breaches of the framework.”

But Sale boss Steve Diamond told BT Sport on Sunday that his club had followed all the protocols. He denies claims his players had gone out partying following their Premiership Cup victory over Harlequins on September 21 after a leaked Whatsapp message.

“Right the way through the process over the last six months [players have followed protocols]. It’s not a Premier Rugby protocol, it’s common sense,” said Diamond.

“We’re not expecting people to go out and party. That doesn’t happen. People have to be respectful and responsible when they’re not in the training environment.

“One: There’s nowhere to go. Two: They’re very responsible and they wouldn’t do that.”

The investigation comes after a number of Northampton players were forced to isolate after playing  Sale Sharks meaning they were unable to fulfil their fixture at Gloucester, who were awarded a 20-0 win.

Sharks’ match with Worcester has been moved to Wednesday. If any breaches are proven, Worcester could be awarded the match outright.

While Bath are currently on course to reach the play-offs, a win for Sale Sharks would see them take the final spot. Bath are three points above Sale and are reportedly still preparing for the play-offs.

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